Sexuality in Greek and Roman Culture / Edition 1

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Sexuality in Greek and Roman Culture is the first comprehensive survey of ancient Greek and Roman sexuality.
  • Covers a wide range of subjects, including Greek pederasty and the symposium, ancient prostitution, representations of women in Greece and Rome, and the public regulation of sexual behavior.
  • Introduces readers to the bitter theoretical debates that have been fought about gender and sexuality in the classical world.
  • The material is ordered chronologically.
  • Draws parallels between ancient sexual ideology and contemporary culture.
  • Draws on literary, artistic and archaeological sources, as well as secondary scholarly sources.
  • Theoretically sophisticated and skillfully argued, yet accessible.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“What has long been badly needed is a comprehensive survey that examines Greco-Roman sexuality, non-judgementally, in its own cultural context. Marilyn Skinner’s Sexuality in Greek and Roman Culture does just that … Non-ideological, its vast scholarship distilled in elegant prose for the general reader, sensible in its judgements, and equipped with a formidable bibliography, this splendid book replaces all earlier works on the subject for those in search of knowledge rather than confirmation of their prejudices.” Times Literary Supplement (Books of the Year)

"This book is not only an overview of sexuality but also an introduction to all forms of interpersonal relations, as Skinner uses the social and political structures of the time to account for differing notions of sexuality across time periods … As a general introduction to the topic this work is highly successful in that it gives a thorough overview of current literature while encouraging further reading and discussion … this is a most successful addition to the work on ancient sexuality and comes at a time when sexuality is becoming such a popular research topic.” Scholia: Studies in Classical Antiquity

"More than twenty years of researching and teaching sex and gender in antiquity, on both Greek and Roman topics, makes Marilyn Skinner an ideal candidate to write the first textbook-style survey of the subject ... I already look forward to the possibility of future editions." Bryn Mawr Classical Review

“Elegantly written and skillfully argued, Sexuality in Greek and Roman Culture brilliantly conveys the complexity of ancient attitudes towards sexuality and gender and the modern debates they have engendered. This book is comprehensive yet concise, theoretically sophisticated and yet accessible for an undergraduate reader.” Laura McClure, University of Wisconsin, Madison

"For several reasons this book may be considered a masterpiece ... The book is eminently readable, with the occasional good sense of humour. Moreover it is an outstanding example of integrated scholarship, aptly covering literary, epigraphical and papyrological source material as well as iconographical evidence ... and comparitive material with reference to contemporary issues." Les Etudes Classiques

“Written in a clear, engaging style that is enlivened with many touches of wit and humour, and, in addition, extremely well organized – a great challenge given the complexity of the subject.”
Beert Verstraete
Department of Classics
Acadia University

“A cultural history of ancient sexuality that is necessary reading for classicists wanting an introduction to this relatively new field, but also of interest to specialists outside classics because of her concern to demonstrate how constructions of ancient sexuality are similar to, yet different from, modern western conceptions of sex and gender.”
Journal of the Classical Association of Canada

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780631232346
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 2/28/2005
  • Series: Ancient Cultures Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 376
  • Product dimensions: 6.75 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Meet the Author

Marilyn B. Skinner is Professor of Classics at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Her previous publications include Catullus’ Passer: The Arrangement of the Book of Polymetric Poems (1981), Roman Sexualities (co-edited, 1997), Catullus in Verona (2003), and Vergil, Philodemus, and the Augustans (co-edited, 2004).

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Table of Contents

Illustrations and Maps.




Chronological Chart.

Introduction: Why Ancient Sexuality? Issues and Approaches.

Thinking about Sex.

Sex Changes.

Essentialism vs. Constructionism.

The Language and Ethos of Boy-Love.

Foul Mouths.


1 The Homeric Age: Epic Sexuality.

The Golden Goddess.

Dynamics of Desire.

The Baneful Race of Women.

Love under Siege.

The Beguilement of Zeus.

Alternatives to Penelope.

Achilles in the Closet?.


2 The Archaic Age: Symposium and Initiation.

When the Cups Are Placed.

Fields of Erotic Dreams.

Singing as a Man….

…and Singing as a Woman.

Boys into Men.

Girls into Women.


3 Late Archaic Athens: More Than Meets the Eye.

Out of Etruria.

Lines of Sight.

Flirtation at the Gym.

Party Girls.

In the Boudoir.

Bride of Quietness.


4 Classical Athens: The Politics of Sex.

More Equal Than Others.

Pederasty and Class.

Interview with the Kinaidos.

In the Grandest Families.

What the Neighbors Might Think.

His and Hers [or His].


5 The Hellenistic Period I: Turning Inwards.

Hippocrates’ Woman Becomes a Man.

From Croton to Crete.

Safe Sex.

Athenian Idol.


6 The Hellenistic Period II: The Feminine Mystique.

Disrobing Aphrodite.

Love among the Pyramids.

To Colchis and Back.

Desiring Women – and Their Detractors.


7 Republican and Augustan Rome I: Noble Romans and Degenerate Greeks.

The Pecking Order.

Imported Vices.

Bringing Women under Control.

Butchery for Fun.


8 Republican and Augustan Rome II: The Soft Embrace of Venus.

Only Joking.

Young Men (?) in Love.

Going Too Far.

Mother of All Empires.


9 Imperial Rome I: Desire under Pressure.

Risky Business.

Boys Named Sue.



10 Imperial Rome II: On the Margins of Empire.

In the Eye of the Beholder.

The Silence of the Grave.

Greek Love under Rome.

Toward Salvation?.


Afterword: The Use of Antiquity.




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